Longford Town make the short journey to Athlone on Saturday night next to play Mick Kerley’s new look Athlone Town in what should be a very exciting game. Athlone under Kerley have put the emphasis on young local players and they are doing very well with the mix of some experienced players from Kerley’s former club Limerick.
To date Athlone have had some good results against teams higher than themselves in the league. The previous meeting between the clubs at Flancare Park ended 2-0 to Longford in a tough battle. That game marked the debut of Keith Gillespie for the Town and the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland International didn’t let the large crowd down.
With so many injuries at the moment one can’t envisage what team will be at Tony Cousins disposal on Saturday night. After last weekends game against Limerick there could be as many as seven first team players out due to various injuries and one has to say that some could have been avoided if the officials at the games were doing their job correctly.
Graham Dowling picked up a very bad injury in the home game against Mervue back in the middle of March and Jacques Morley also sustained a very bad ankle injury in the return game in Galway. Cathal Brady was also on the end of some outrageous tackles and they also went unpunished. Michael Lee’s injury thankfully is almost cleared up after an operation and like the other players on the casualty list he will be hoping for a quick return.
The recent games against Finn Harps also diminished our squad with both strikers Austin Skelly and Don Cowan having to leave the pitch in the Cup replay in Finn Park on Monday night week. Skelly was unable to play against Limerick at Flancare Park on Saturday last and his fellow striker Cowan, who scored a superb goal in the first half, had to be replaced at half-time against Limerick. The Town also lost keeper Alvin Rouse in the first half of the Cup replay at Finn Park when he received a very bad back injury but the Town were so lucky to have Paul Hunt in reserve.
Getting back to next Saturday’s game Tony Cousins will be hoping that his long list of injuries will get smaller over the week as there’s no doubt that Athlone will be a tough nut to crack especially on their own patch. This is the third meeting between the clubs this season as they also clashed in the Ea Sports Cup (previously the League Cup). On that occasion in Flancare Park the Town won 2-1.
The Athlone team will definitely be one player down on Saturday as central defender Paul Danaher received a red card in last weekends 2-0 defeat against Cork City in Turners Cross. Athlone had four players making their debuts in that game. Local player Noel McGee made his return to the Athlone team after playing junior football while Kevin Dunne, Declan Fallon and Mark Walsh also featured against Cork.
Last Monday week’s Lotto draw was postponed due to the FAI Cup replay in Ballybofey and it was rescheduled for Monday last in Eamon’s Town and Country. Next Monday night’s draw will be held in McKeon’s Bar, Earl St.
Player of the Month
Congratulations to Keith Gillespie on winning the player of the month award for May. Keith has been a great asset for the club since he joined some months ago and there is no doubt that he has made a big difference to the club both on and off the field. His return to the team on Saturday last against Limerick made a huge difference and hopefully he will be fully fit for the visit to Athlone this weekend.
Get Well Wishes
All in the club wish Denis Dowd a speedy recovery as he is currently out of commission and is sorely missed out at Flancare Park on match nights. Denis has been one of the unsung heroes of Longford Town over the years as he raised funds to keep the club afloat. Whether it was a golf classic, a race night, a night at the dogs Denis was always able to come up trumps. Denis is a true gentleman and a true friend and one of the best fund raisers ever in the club. Here’s looking forward to seeing you out in Flancare very soon.